Florida Tech Ortega Telescope Gains Sophisticated New Eye

Florida Tech Ortega Telescope Gains Sophisticated New Eye

MELBOURNE, FLA.—A sophisticated imaging camera will be tested, starting this summer, on Florida’s largest research telescope, Florida Institute of Technology’s 0.8-m Ortega Telescope (http://research.fit.edu/ortegatelescope). The camera was purchased with a grant from the American Astronomical Society and a Florida Tech endowment match.

Called a Charge Injection Device (CID), the camera “has the potential to transform the future of observational astronomy,” said Daniel Batcheldor, Florida Tech assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Space Science. The state-of-the-art CID is supplied by Thermo-Fisher Scientific in Liverpool, N.Y. and allows for adaptive pixel control. The CIDs have been used for other applications since the 1970s, but it is only very recently that pre-amplifier per-pixel architecture has reduced noise levels to those that astronomy requires.

“In theory, this technology will help astronomers to spot very faint objects near to very bright objects. These are, for example, planets around other stars and the host galaxies of quasars,” said Batcheldor. Directly imaging an Earth-like planet around another star is currently considered the “Holy Grail” of astronomy.

As testing progresses, the camera will potentially be used to perform observations at larger observatories around the world and, possibly, in space.

For more information, contact Batcheldor at dbatcheldor@fit.edu.




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